Dispelling The Vitamin C Myth: A Doctor’s Advice For Common Cold

Posted on May 22, 2013 in Health and Life

By Gunjan Gupta:

It all starts with a scratch like feeling in your throat, like somebody sandpapered it and then, you’re left with soreness. You see it coming and abhor it. You know what’s going to follow. It’s a ritual for most of us. Soreness, blocked nose, runny watering eyes, snuffles and the mother of all – a heavy head! Colloquially,it’s called the Common cold. Common, I understand but cold I do not. I have known many people (including myself) to suffer from it even in the scorching heat. But let’s not go into the semantics.


The things is, in India, everybody is adept at imparting gyaan and will tell you every possible home remedy to cure it. Good for me because when it comes to cold, I am all for adrak wali chai, kadhi, honey and clove and the rest. While I don’t mind the dos, it’s the don’ts which I don’t mostly agree with. The don’ts like, orange? No way, they cause cold. Custard apple? Are you nuts and that too at night? No,avoid sweet lime and lemon. Also, tamarind and guava- gala lag jayega!

But I painstakingly explain each time how these savory fruits and vegetables are rich in Vitamin C and anti oxidants and help in body’s defense against infections. That they must be consumed especially if you have a cold. So,I work on my favorite recipe, making a piping hot, tamarind enriched, replete with a dozen tomatoes, flavored with generous helpings of garlic and ginger pods- rasam. I do get advised against that by some because it has, you know, tamarind which could lead to gala lagna. I proceed nevertheless. Taking in the rich aroma while I stir the ingredients and feel the fumes going right up my pharynx via my nose, soothing it. And just before I am ready to consume it, I sprinkle lemon juice in it.

It’s the moment when that tangy rasam touches the back of your throat making its way through the hard and soft palate and you can taste mustard that you feel that world is going to be alright, that there is going to be no heavy head and no blockade. Not just that, I end up gorging on every citrus fruit and to annoy, some especially at night. It works though, really! And let me share my secret quirk with you. I drink cold water, sometimes even have an ice cream during a bout a cold. Yes, the warm liquids do sooth the throat mucous, providing relief against pain but the cold works for me! Something on the line of loha hi lohe ko kat ta hai . There is no scientific basis to that (and certainly none that I know of) but I take it as the cold compression which in many cases relives the oedema and inflammation. I strongly advise you against it though- Do as the doctor says, not what the doctor does.

And all said and done, I do pop in my favourite orange antibiotics and anti inflammatories.